Back from this very interesting conference on homological stability at the University of Copenhagen. First time in Denmark.
Two things that struck me — or rather, in a sense, one thing that struck me twice — a kind of relaxedness about money. I wanted to rent a bike to see the city a bit on the conference half-day, but ended up only having an hour or so free. I found a bike shop that offered daily bike rentals and asked if they rented by the hour; the proprietor said, don’t worry about it, just leave your driver’s license here and take the bike and we won’t charge you.
The next day, I stopped at the smørrebrød shop to get my morning smørrebrød, but was out of Danish cash, and found that my PIN-less US credit card was no good there. And again, I got “don’t worry about it” — just take your smørrebrød now, said the smørrebrød-maker, and come back and pay me tomorrow. Which is what I did.
Unthinkable behavior for a shop in the United States, or am I wrong?
Re bikes and smørrebrød:
- Copenhagen is the only place I’ve ever seen where the dream of bikes as an equal part of traffic seems to be a reality. It’s a true pleasure. Also, my stereotype that Europeans don’t wear helmets isn’t quite right; I’d say about a quarter of the riders were helmeted, including lots of young, hip-looking people.
- Smørrebrød! They are little open-faced sandwiches on which you can put almost anything. I got them for breakfast every morning and ate them as I walked to the university, even though I think eating smørrebrød at 8am and eating while walking in general are somewhat non-Danish things to do. They served raw beef smørrebrød at the conference reception but for breakfast I didn’t go so wild; my favorite was the frikadeller, a meatball with a kind of creamy dill sauce on it. There is a very enthusiastic smørrebrød blog where you can learn more. Also, Copenhagen’s most famous smørrebrød house now has an outpost in New York.
Update: Hey, I should at least give the generous Danish shopkeepers credit by name! The excellent smørrebrød I ate every morning were from Madmanden on Classensgade. And the folks who let me borrow their bike free were at Cykelsmeden on Nørregade.
Via NPR, some smørrebrød: